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Wayang Orang Sriwedari survives despite modernization

Stefanus Ajie

The Jakarta Post

Surakarta, Central Java  /  Thu, July 13, 2017  /  03:30 pm
  • The first show involved young performers from Wayang Orang Sriwedari.

    The first show involved young performers from Wayang Orang Sriwedari. OF JP/Stefanus Ajie

    The first show involved young performers from Wayang Orang Sriwedari.

  • Wayang Orang Sriwedari's anniversary show was kicked off with a Gambyong Dance.

    Wayang Orang Sriwedari's anniversary show was kicked off with a Gambyong Dance. OF JP/Stefanus Ajie

    Wayang Orang Sriwedari's anniversary show was kicked off with a Gambyong Dance.

  • An actor applies make-up before the Wayang Orang Sriwedari anniversary show.

    An actor applies make-up before the Wayang Orang Sriwedari anniversary show. OF JP/Stefanus Ajie

    An actor applies make-up before the Wayang Orang Sriwedari anniversary show.

  • The Wayang Orang Sriwedari art stage still features hand-painted illustrations.

    The Wayang Orang Sriwedari art stage still features hand-painted illustrations. OF JP/Stefanus Ajie

    The Wayang Orang Sriwedari art stage still features hand-painted illustrations.

  • A Wayang Orang Sriwedari performer studies the plot prior to the show.

    A Wayang Orang Sriwedari performer studies the plot prior to the show. OF JP/Stefanus Ajie

    A Wayang Orang Sriwedari performer studies the plot prior to the show.

  • Young artist Benedictus Billy Ardi memorizes the script prior to the show.

    Young artist Benedictus Billy Ardi memorizes the script prior to the show. OF JP/Stefanus Ajie

    Young artist Benedictus Billy Ardi memorizes the script prior to the show.

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Wayang Orang Sriwedari (Sriwedari Human Puppet Troupe) celebrated its 107th anniversary at the Wayang Orang Sriwedari Building in Surakarta, Central Java, from July 7 to July 8.

The two-day event presented Ramayana epics, namely Ismaya Krida and Srikandi Larasati Kembar.

The first show involved young performers from Wayang Orang Sriwedari.

As for the second show, the troupe collaborated with senior performers from Jakarta’s Wayang Orang Bharata, Semarang’s Ngesti Pandhawa and RRI Surakarta.

The artform was created by Kanjeng Pangeran Adipati Aray in the 17th century.

In the beginning, wayang orang was performed exclusively inside the kraton (palace) area.

In 1895, Gan Kam, a Chinese trader, became the first person to showcase wayang orang outside the palace.

Read also: 'Wayang Orang Bharata' strives to preserve traditional culture

Over the years, Wayang Orang Sriwedari has experienced ups and downs.

In the 1990s, its popularity dropped, leading to only a handful of people coming to watch the shows.

The troupe made its return in the 2000s, following promotional efforts by the government, private institutions and the young generation to restore its popularity.

Young artist Benedictus Billy Ardi told The Jakarta Post that regeneration and innovation were key to preserving traditional performing arts.

He said wayang orang had evolved with the help from technology.

“People can easily access performance schedules on social media. LCD [the liquid crystal display monitor] also helps to screen the dialogue in Bahasa Indonesia,” he said. (jes/kes)

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